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How to avoid pain as a runner…

May 26, 2021

Running is great for our health and many of us love to get our mornings started by going for a brisk and cathartic routinely run. Other than the obvious physical health benefits of running such as weight management and stamina building, there are also many mental health benefits to running. Runners often report feeling mentally clearer after their run, feeling energised for their following activities and tasks, and feeling more in tune with their own bodies.

However, despite there being so many positives to running – there is also a down side of running which is commonly experienced, and that is pain. Running can often lead to aches and pains due to the repetitive nature of the motion. In this article, I’m going to take you through the most common types of runner associated pain and how to either heal from these pains or avoid them altogether!

Runners Knee

Knee pain is the number 1, most common pain associated with running and that’s how it earned its title as runners’ knee! Formally known as Patellar tendonitis, is essentially swelling in the tendon, either above or below the kneecap, though most experience swelling and pain below.

To avoid runners’ knee, you must first avoid running too much, too soon. If there’s not enough endurance in the tissues, you’re more than likely going to experience joint pain. Sometimes as a runner, you may not be doing enough strength training too, making it more likely for you to experience runner’s knee. Be sure to hit the gym at least twice per week, to strengthen quads, hamstrings and calf muscles. It’s also important to run with proper form. If you’re not soft or agile on the ground, that also leads to inflammation through the impact of each step. Because of this, it is important to wear proper running trainers, as they’re usually equipped with some kind of shock absorption materials which can help.

If you’re already experiencing runners’ knee, you should aim to pause your running for up to two weeks. That will change the amount of impact you’re putting on your joint by taking this break.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is also fairly common in runners and it is basically an overloading of the tissue at the bottom of your foot. Poor form and balance can cause this.  If you can’t balance very well on one leg, for example, you are relying heavily on the other leg and it is carrying most of your weight. Because of this the tissues have to work extra hard to keep you from falling over while running.

To avoid suffering with Plantar Fasciitis add balance moves to your strength routine. Integrate single-leg exercises, like one-legged deadlifts, or practice balancing on one foot to improve your balance and take the pressure off of one of your feet.

If you are already suffering with this, first, reduce your running volume, and heat and ice as needed to help with pain. We recommend rolling a ball under your foot to boost circulation and speed healing. Ankle stretches and building calf endurance through calf raises can also help reduce stress and excess pressure on the area.

Shin Splints

Most people feel these on the outside of the shin, which is the tibialis anterior muscle, it can sometimes get inflamed from being overloaded or simply overlooked. This is a case when it’s especially important to visit your doctor to rule out a stress fracture.

There’s often not one definitive cause, but running with proper form and cadence can help keep shin splints away. You can also improve your balance to reduce load on the muscle, by performing single-leg exercises in the gym, and boost muscular endurance by tapping your toes similar to that of Plantar Fasciitis.

To ease the pain of shin splints you should stretch the muscle between runs. Practice pulling the toes away from your body. It’s also good to foam-roll the muscle, to bring blood flow to the area. You can still run with shin splints — depending on the severity of your pain. It’s still a good idea to play with your mileage to find what works. If you’re limping, it’s best to slow down to a walk until you’re feeling better.

IT Band Syndrome

We see a lot of runners in our clinic who suffer from IT Band Syndrome. Much like other running injuries, this one relates to overuse and resulting inflammation. It usually presents as a hip or knee issue — perhaps an ankle isn’t mobile enough, so the knee turns inward. Often the vastus lateralis muscle (which runs along the side of the thigh and is the largest of the quadricep group) fires extra hard to stabilize the knee and becomes overworked. It can feel like it’s always tense.

There can be multiple causes, so your best bet is to avoid it is to ensure all of your joints are mobile and working properly. We recommend incorporating balance exercises and minding your form as you run.

If you think you may be suffering from this, we recommend you come and see us to determine what’s causing your IT Band pain.

Hip Pain

Runners often experience hip pain simply from muscles feeling tight, and the hips can especially feel the effects of repetitive motion. The problem can also be an impingement (from too-tight muscles) or, often, bursitis — which is swelling of a bursa: a fluid-filled sac designed to decrease friction in the joint.

Strength training can really help protect your hips so to avoid hip pain while running, we recommend hitting the gym three times/week if you’ve ever had hip pain and performing moves like hip thrusters, lunges (with a longer stride, to focus on hips) and isometric holds that allow you to build muscular endurance.

If you’re already suffering with hip pain, you’ll first need to pinpoint the cause of your pain to determine treatment. Usually, you’ll need some time to rest and then modify your training. You may need to alter your running technique or adjust your volume.

You may also benefit from dry needling, depending on the nature of your injury, which can calm the surrounding area so as not to cause further irritation to the joint. We offer this service in our clinic.

If you’re a runner and want to avoid these conditions, or you believe you may already be suffering with one, why not book a FREE 15-minute discovery visit? In this complimentary visit you will have a chance to speak to a physio about your needs/and or condition and they will let you know if physio is right for you.

To book an appointment or a discovery visit, call us on: 0207 636 8845

TESTIMONIALS

Recovering from a full Achilles rupture. Started my work with Nina in feb and my progress has only been positive and upwards and I am almost at full speed again. Nina put me back together again almost from scratch. She is the best physio I have ever worked with and will again. Very knowledgable and very hard working. Can’t recommend enough.

Bojan

What a great find! My orthopaedic surgeon recommended them and I can't rate Luigi, Gloria and the team more highly. Excellent service and very effective treatment- recovering nicely!

Justine

I am 84 years old, and have always been fit and healthy and exercised regularly. 3 years ago I underwent emergency surgery for peritonitis, and had a colonoscopy bag for 6 months and straight after surgery to reversal of the stoma. After this surgery I felt my legs very weak. To complete my drama, during the last summer I developed an abdominal hernia and had surgery for hernia repair. This made me even weaker specially at my legs. I have recovered but felt weak. I started my sessions at ALO Physiotherapy at the beginning of January, with the Vibra Machine combined with specific exercises. I have now recovered my body strength, particularly in the legs. I am now walking normally and without pain. I am delighted!

Barbara

Great clinic with great people! I was so lucky to find this clinic and even more when I met Andre. He's a very talented therapist and a wonderful person who makes you feel comfortable every time. He helped me to resolve my back problems in few appointments and I will be always grateful to him! From my experience is the best clinic in London and I highly recommend them without any doubts!

Daniele

One of the best physiotherapy centres in the world! The professionalism and knowledge of this centre amazed me.

Pierre

I am so glad I found this clinic. Luigi has been amazing. After my 1st session I felt an improvement and now have ALOT more movement and significant reduction in pain. I couldn’t recommend this clinic & Luigi enough. So helpful and flexible whenever I have needed to amend appointments. Every one is fantastic. I will continue to come here for as long as I need.

Mital

Andre is the best physiotherapist I came across. As a dedicated martial arts practitioner, I regularly use his services. He has always managed to fix my various back and leg injuries. I would recommend Alo Physiotherapy to anyone who suffers from body pain.

Thomas

Where do I begin? The journey has been too long with Andre Oliveira and ALO Clinic , as he helped me both physically and mentally to overcome an injury I had in both of my knees. A small injury , after following wrong treatment became chronic and I found myself unable to walk/stand/run and do the simplest things- the mental impact was worse. I was introduced to Andre by Eleftherios Pavlidis who runs Laertion in Athens. lefteris with his team were the first to accommodate the problem and told me what I need to do. As a Londoner, I was introduced to Andre and ALO Clinic, and the rest is history. Since February 2017 when I had the first session with Andre and he identified the biomechanic nature of the problem, along with the use of Tecar the results were visible after one month. Since then, along with personal effort and strengthening I did always guided by Andre, I the problem is restored and the pain is gone. I highly recommend ALO Physiotherapy Clinic , and Andre Oliveira for anyone who suffers from sport injuries , amateurs or professional top athletes.

Constantinos

Very professional staff and friendly environment. I felt a lot better after very first session. Appointment are easily available. I would definitely recommend this place

Muhammad

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